Another look at the short game

I have written about the importance of the short game before…but I thought it would be a good idea to cover some important points again.

In the last few weeks I have received a number of calls and emails asking to describe the key points of putting, chipping, and bunker play and the best way to improve this part of the game.

OK…here’s what I think you should do if you are struggling with or would like to improve further.


Develop a basic stroke. Choose one club, preferably a sand iron or pitching wedge (The extra loft these clubs offer give you some versatility).

The stroke needs to be simple. You are simply moving the club back and through with rhythm. The idea is to brush the grass gently. There’s no need to take a huge divot…you want to make a simple stroke…think back and through. For most people the ball will be positioned back in your stance with your hands and club shaft leaning forward.

You want to get good at this stroke. Forget about hitting spinning shots or high lob shots. Get good at this basic stroke. You can vary distance by swinging a little harder or softer. Alternatively, if you’re in doubt use your putter from off the green. If your goal is to shoot the lowest possible score then don’t be afraid to use your putter.

Practice this stroke away from the course (your backyard). You want to get so good at your basic little stroke that you should be able to do it with your eyes closed and from a variety of different lies. When you can hit 10 perfect little chips in a row…all with good contact, you are well on your way.


Putting is important. If you want to improve I suggest you read my free putting book (but please be quick because it won’t be free forever). You can get a copy here,

Bunker Play

It seems that many golfers have the wrong concept with playing bunkers. There are two crucial elements that need to be adhered too.

  1. Open club face. Assuming you’re playing from a green side trap, you must have an open club face. This ensures the club doesn’t dig into the sand.
  2. Shallow angle of attack. You don’t need to take that much sand. Many golfers believe they must remove ‘heaven and earth’ to eradicate themselves from a bunker. The shallow angle of attack ensures you take a slither of sand, hitting the ball high and soft.

Your goal from the bunker must be to get it out first time. The above technique requires some practice…something that many golfers don’t like doing.

If all this seems like hard work try and play away from the bunkers at all costs. A conservative approach will save many strokes from your score.

Also, please keep your eye out for my bunker trainer. It forces you to have an open club face and a shallow angle of attack. Early testing has given remarkable results and it should be available soon.


Improving your short game requires some understanding. You have to believe that it is as important, if not more so, as hitting long drives and accurate approaches. Spend time watching better players and learn how they get the ball close from just off the green. Then compare what you do from the same spot.

I wrote about a fellow member who beat me in a little putting contest before we played. He was surprised that a 14 handicapper could beat a scratch marker. When we took our little competition further by adding chipping, he didn’t get onto the green after two attempts and was well behind. He as gone onto say this was the best lesson he’s ever had!

Forget about hitting special shots too soon. If you work on a basic chipping stroke, a bunker technique for getting out first time and can make the vast majority of putts (90+%) from a metre or so, your game will improve. I guarantee it!

See how you go. And don’t forget to spend some time practicing. Maybe 10-20 minutes per week.

Good golfing,

Cameron Strachan

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